Animal shelter

Council moves forward with animal shelter | New

The animal shelter is launched.

The Porterville City Council approved the awarding of a bid to build the $7.3 million animal shelter to be placed at 185 N.D Street at its Tuesday meeting.

The former City Bank building on the site will be converted into an animal shelter. There were still concerns expressed at Tuesday’s meeting about the location of the animal shelter being essentially in the middle of town.

Council members responded to those concerns with council member Milt Stowe stating that the animal shelter will be soundproofed. Porterville’s newest board member Don Weyhrauch, who was attending his first meeting after being sworn in at the start of the meeting, also referenced after researching he was aware of other animal shelters that have been soundproofed.

“It’s going to be soundproof,” Stowe said. “Nobody will know there is a dog shelter there unless they go inside.”

The awarding of the construction contract to AMB & Associates, Inc. of Santa Clarita paves the way for construction of the facility to begin by the end of the year. The contract award was originally scheduled to be approved routinely as part of the approval schedule.

Stowe moved to approve, except for one item, the consent schedule, including the bid for the animal sanctuary, and Vice Mayor Kellie Carrillo seconded the motion.

But after hearing concerns expressed about the location of the animal shelter in oral communications, Weyhrauch originally intended to vote no on approving the consent schedule. But Stowe then rescinded his motion and Carrillo rescinded his second motion as well.

Weyhrauch then removed the issue from the consent schedule so that it could be discussed at the end of the meeting. After the discussion, the council voted unanimously to approve the build offer with Weyhrauch, Stowe, council member Lawana Tate, Carrillo, and Mayor Martha A. Flores all voting in favor. Weyhrauch moved the motion to approve the offer and Carrillo seconded the motion.

“I appreciate council member Weyhrauch pulling the case so we can have this discussion,” Stowe said.

“I don’t want to be the person holding him back more,” Weyhrauch said. “I think it’s a necessary project. I don’t know if we’re going to please everyone.

Gail Nuckols, who voiced her opposition to the location of the animal sanctuary, voiced her opposition again in oral communications at Tuesday’s meeting. Nuckols again noted as she has done in the past that SETCO Republican Women collected over 400 signatures against the animal shelter location.

“This is the wrong place,” she said. “Deep down in your heart, you know this is not the right place for animals. You will ruin your quality of life.

“I just wanted you to reconsider the location that this is not the right location for Porterville. Who has a dog shelter downtown?”

Rae Dean Strawn, who regularly attends the meeting, again accused the council of not listening to the community as it has done in the past.

“They’re pushing through the animal sanctuary,” Strawn said of the town and the council. Of the council and the town, Strawn said the animal sanctuary was “what they wanted, not what people wanted in downtown Porterville. We get blind-eyed and deaf-eared every time we stand in front of that microphone.

Greg Meister, who is running against Jason Gurrola to replace Stowe to represent District 2 in the November election, also spoke out against the location of the shelter.

“It’s a bad deal for people,” Meister said. “We still have a chance to reevaluate. If we can still move away and back, it’s good for people. It’s not the best option.

There was also a reference to a location near Veterans Park being more suitable for the animal shelter. But Stowe said it was decided the location was “more convenient to put something else we need”.

He also said the process of finding a property for the animal sanctuary included finding “something we could afford” and the thinking ended up being “it was probably the best location”, in reference to the former ownership of the City Bank.

He added that a lot is now being spent on the development of an animal sanctuary, which affects the location that can be used. “It’s not just about putting up a fence and putting them in a pen anymore. There are so many other requirements.

Carrillo also noted that “the shelter design is very different from what we’ve had in the past.”

Carrillo also said after researching the project, “I felt very comfortable with the decision” regarding the location of the shelter. “I think it will be a good site for animals.”

The immediate need for shelter has been met as the current shelter is located far between Lindsay and Exeter and is lacking.

The development process for the new shelter also took seven years. “The conditions are very sad,” Flores said of the current shelter. “It’s sad. It’s a sad situation.

Flores also noted that the public has had the chance to participate in the process in the past. “There was a public hearing,” she said. “There were no comments at that time.”

Tate also talked about how much better the new shelter will be than the current one, saying the new shelter will be “stellar”.

“It’s going to be more human than what we have now,” Tate said. “I think we read to get ahead. I am ready to support him.

Most of the funding for the project will come from the US federal bailout funds the city received to the tune of $4.85 million. There have been $1.3 million in donations that will help fund the project and an additional $500,000 in land sales revenue will be used along with $300,000 in local transportation funds. Another $550,000 in Mesure R funds will be used to fund an on-site dog park.